Haines AK to Dease Lake BC, Northern Lights and Shooting Stars

Less than an hour out of Haines, traveling north on the Haines Highway toward Haines Junction, we meet the international border (again). The young RCMP customs fellow asks if we have firearms or other weapons, checks or cash of $10,000 or more, and were we the Airstream trailer carrying firewood. We told him no, no, and no, and he said, “the U.S. Customs guys must have been talking about another Airstream trailer.” Go figure.

Our border crossings have all been fine for us on this caravan although one of our party turned back to Haines at this border because of a question regarding hand-crafted artifacts on natural materials. Rather than risk penalties or confiscation, they returned to Haines and had the retailer mail the items to the states.

Finished with customs we cruised northward to Haines Junction. This is an incredibly beautiful drive through mountain passes, along high lakes, and sometimes with neat extra effects like these low-lying clouds and the red ground cover.

One milestone at a time works well for driving days. After customs, our next stop was the Village Bakery in Haines Junction. We found this on our first pass through Haines Junction and liked it. The second stop reinforced our very positive opinion based upon their sandwiches, cranberry crumble, and coffee. Neat place.

This equipment (the old ones, right?) remain from a 1940s oil pipeline project. Analysis Paralysis can be dangerous anytime, perhaps more so in war times. The U.S. needed a tremendous amount of aircraft and truck fuel for transportation of planes and gear from the states to Alaska in the 1940s. The Canol pipeline could provide a reliable local supply for this purpose, and was hastily approved and built. When the military quickly determined the fuel cost was too high and they could obtain the fuel more cheaply without this pipeline, the Canol was abandoned. Nice to have a back-up, though.

Last night we enjoyed a dark skies campground on the Alaska Highway, at Baby Nuggets RV Resort near Watson Lake. A little too much moonlight and one floodlight far away on a campground building, but otherwise very good view of the skies. Off and on between midnight and 0200 hours the dreamstreamrs went outside to check skies. We had our first little taste of northern lights, cool moving lights but without much color. Jim spotted two brilliant shooting stars. We’re now hoping for more of these.

Most jade seen and bought in North America (90% of the world’s supply) is from the Cassiar jade mines in British Columbia. We stopped today at this family run store, Jade City. They mine, cut, and finish their own jade products. A bunch of the men sat at an out of the way table checking email or talking whilst the ladies shopped jade, white star marble, and other treats.

We’ve heard tales about the Cassiar Highway for years. It’s a haul road, big trucks dominate, it’s dangerous, it’s unpaved and unruly and . . . Guess what? Our first 145 miles of the Cassiar Highway were all paved. Not too wide, no lane markings, not many pull-outs, but all paved and in darned good condition. We traveled at 80 km/hr, the speed limit, and had no troubles at all. No big rigs passed us, just a few cars and smaller campers in a hurry to get down the road.

Dease Lake community started in 1830s as a Hudsons Bay company post. Boom time was in the 1890s gold rush when miners stampeded to Cassiar, a former mining town north of Dease Lake. Population now is 300 and swells during summer. We’re here one night, then on to Hyder AK. See you there!

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey, chasing 75 degrees

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7 responses to “Haines AK to Dease Lake BC, Northern Lights and Shooting Stars

  1. Reader #9 here, I like the new format with the larger pictures, and I am enjoying your trip reports.

  2. We stayed at the Golden Nugget on our way to Alaska. There was a forest fire nearby closing the Cassier Highway. It was so bad our vehicle was covered in ash and we could barely go outside. On the way back we took the Cassier Highway. The fire was out. We thought the road was great too, wondered what all the fuss and warnings were about. Be sure to check out the bears in Stewart/Hyder. Safe driving!

    • Jan, Great story, illustrates what can happen in travels. We encountered the same problem crossing western Montana in August 2007. Nip and tuck there for a couple of days. We asked the check-in person at campground registration desk, are the fires a problem. She answered, “not if you’re only staying one night.”. We got through okay with only one very smoky night.

      Bears in our campground, bears in town crossing the street, bears at Fish Creek — we saw bears in Hyder for sure.

      Jim

  3. We are beginning the numbered Airstream Caravan to Door County, Wisconsin. It won’t be Alaska, but will get us north of Missouri for a couple of weeks. We love your posts and have passed on your blog address to others.

    • Thanks, Richard. We’re at our next to the last stop for this Alyeska caravan. Rained throughout yesterday’s drive until we approached our camping spot at Smithers B.C.. The rain disappeared and blue skies emerged. Last night was a cool one at 37 degrees, it’s nearly time to leave these northern latitudes.

      How long is your Door County caravan? How many airstreamers? We’d love to do a caravan with a much smaller group than this one.

      Best,

      Jim

  4. Our Door County Caravan has only ten units for this unit planned, ten day adventure. Yesterday we dry camped at an old restored stage couch inn, Wade House, in Greenbush, Wisconsin. The big event was actually using the historic fireplaces and wood stoves and preparing our own feast, 1850’s style. We get a tour of a maritime museum and WWII submarine today in Manitowoc.

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